Season 3 of Contenders Australia is right around the corner! The new season kicks off Monday, November 19th and the off-season has been chaotic to say the least. Rebrands, collapses, sneaky roster moves and the sad demise of the Bin Chickens. Rookies fresh off the ladder will be squaring up with old school veterans, and we’ll no doubt see some intense matchups this season.
First, a note about Contenders. Blizzard recently introduced new rules to how Contenders plays out. Instead of three seasons a year, there are now two longer seasons. Prize money has been redistributed to better reward more successful teams. North America has been split into two regions, East and West North America (quite the mouthful) and finally a soft region lock has been introduced – teams are restricted to a maximum of three non-residents on their roster. The teams themselves are the top eight from the previous season, along with the top four Trial teams.
Sydney Drop Bears (They’re Real)
Hot off their two successive championships from previous seasons, the Sydney Drop Bears are favorites. The Drop Bears replaced most of their roster during the off-season with what is effectively the 2018 World Cup team. Supports Akraken and Bertlog remain, with former Blank Esports DPS players Hus and ckm coming into the mix. Trill, Team Australia’s main tank, was signed to Sydney Drop Bears but was recently picked up by NA Contenders team Envy. Flex tank Punk, another World Cup player, has also joined the team. On top of that, the Drop Bears are training in a dedicated facility. All up, Drop Bears are likely to pull off a hat trick this season.
ORDER stepped into Contenders with the purchase of the Blank Blue roster before significantly reworking the team by signing former Drop Bears DPS Jordation and tank Quatz. Both players were powerful parts of the Drop Bears and I expect them to continue excelling with ORDER, with DPS Yuki bringing up the rear. Flex player Adam also has a proud history of victories in pre-Contenders team Monopoly Club, and supports Unter and Merit have a short but sweet list of successes to their names. Expect ORDER to be one of the top tier teams this season.
Kanga Esports finished last season in fourth place and have taken the off season to try and address that, with some success. Sadboy and LUSH from Bin Chickens, Render from Dignity and CantuS of Dark Sided have all signed on, joining Davi from season 2 and newcomer F0R. Only CantuS has seen finals glory – Dark Sided came second last season – and Bin Chickens went 0-20, leaving me scratching my head at Kanga’s decisions.
Formerly known as SereNity and NoC Owls, the Melbourne Mavericks have given Blizzard a second readymade OWL franchise name for the inevitable Australian team. Despite their glamorous overhaul, Melbourne isn’t looking like a fine choice to back this season. Built on the bones of SereNity, the only new player to join the team is DPS Winter, replacing Guzto. Though they took a sneaky map off of the otherwise dominant Drop Bears last season, that’s the best they’ve gotten – SereNity has never made it past quarter finals. It seems unlikely the rebrand will be enough to propel the Mavericks to victory.
HEIST Gaming Club
Taking the spot of the now disbanded Dark Sided is HEIST Gaming Club, a fairly new group in the region. Tank players Bus and Guzto (now on flex tank), as well as supports JungleJazz and Dalsu, are established names in Contenders and have had some standout performances in their time. Hitscan DPS Locus played admirably with Kanga the last two seasons. Flex DPS and Pharah enthusiast Dewboy comes from PIXL eSports, a Trials team that last season qualified only after ineligible players on another team resulted in changes to the rankings. Take HEIST with a hint of caution – it might finally be their time to shine here.
Athletico Esports has returned after a year long hiatus and, like HEIST, bought out a spot in Contenders left vacant by Masterminds Gaming Club. The Athletico roster is pumped full of veteran players. DPS termo and usmc are solid players with history in Dark Sided, the only team to have given Drop Bears a real run for their money so far. Tank Gob and flex xZol are just as dependable, Gob in particular. Support duo Muni and Eevee go all the way back to 2016 with the team Love Shack. All in all, a perfectly acceptable team. Expect good things from them.
The Breakaway Esports org acquired the entire Tainted Minds spot and roster earlier this year and, honestly it’s a strange decision. Tainted Minds were up and down throughout their run and lost to Dark Sided in last seasons quarterfinals. Players include babyporo and Jervisss on flex and main supports, respectively, Trisimail on tank, SlidzorJ and Dfield on DPS. Captain and tank player JJJJ seems confident in his old school line up and with the backing of a larger org behind them the new Breakaway team could have what it takes.
Last but not least is Legacy Esports. After two retirees and a number of roster moves, Legacy confirmed their supports SpecialKid and ThunderKitten, DPS SleepEasy and Addy and off tank Mini earlier this month. Captaining the team is Cinderella, a veritable veteran of the Australian Overwatch scene with more than two years of competitive play under his belt. Despite this, Legacy hasn’t yet cracked into top four of Contenders – this new roster might be just the ticket.
Besides the top eight of Contenders, the top four teams from Trials are Blank Esports, Mindfreak, Freshman Class and Kraken Esports Club. Blank moved from Pacific Contenders to Australia but are looking to strengthen their odds this season – they’ve a solid roster, excellent infrastructure, and are currently the only team with their own team house. Mindfreak has taken a risk by acquiring the team Sandbaggers, but will be well rewarded if it pays off. Kraken and Freshman Class are both teams that have clambered their way to their current position and will have to work hard to get any higher.
Contenders Australia kicks off Monday, 11am AEST/12pm AEDT with the Sydney Drop Bears vs. Mindfreak. That’s Sunday, 5pm PST for American readers. Catch it live and see the boys from down under duke it out!